Semmes Mayor Brandon Van Hook said the city’s resources must be prioritized for those living in the city limits. (Call News file photo)
By ARTHUR L. MACK
Semmes city leaders are considering drawing back the police jurisdiction to one-half mile beyond the city limits, according to Mayor Brandon Van Hook.
The police jurisdiction would be cut back by Jan. 1, 2024, if the plan is approved. The city council is due to address the issue in August.
It’s mainly a matter of economics — residents outside the city limits are getting police and fire protection with limited revenue coming from those areas to pay for it.
“Right now, we have 16,000 to 18,000 people who are reaping the benefits of getting services from the city without being in the city,” city planner Jeffery McKee said.
Semmes’ police jurisdiction, which goes nearly to Georgetown, is 49.13 square miles and the fire jurisdiction is 57 square miles.
“We don’t want to do it but we have to put our resources into people who want to stay and be vested in our community,” Van Hook said.
Van Hook said the movement to shrink the police jurisdiction resulted from Alabama House Bill 107, sponsored by Rep. Chris Elliott, limiting what municipalities can do in their police and planning jurisdictions upon annexation.
“The goal was to eliminate police jurisdictions altogether,” Van Hook said. “One thing with this bill is that we can’t enforce ordinances in our police jurisdiction. The problem is we’re servicing them with fire and police. We made a huge effort in the last couple of years with the annexations and we see the need of sister cities like Saraland for pulling back.”
Since Semmes has holes within its corporate limits, Elliott’s bill makes it impossible to enforce an ordinance, especially if the offender is in an unincorporated area next to a neighbor who is part of the city, Van Hook said.
“Frankly, we need to take care of the people who are in our community and be a part of what we have going on here,” he said. “The problem with the bill is it affects cities like us. Semmes is the youngest municipality in the state of Alabama, and I may be in the city limits but my neighbors across the street may not.
“If we can’t enforce the ordinances, we shouldn’t be covering the area and this is how it should be. We spend a lot more money with our resources and our police jurisdiction, especially in the area where we’re planning on pulling back. We spend a lot more money in our police jurisdiction than the revenue we get from it.”